US promises $600m in aid

Trevor Yearwood,

Added 11 June 2010


BARBADOS will benefit from a wide-ranging, Caribbean aid package of some US$300 million, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in the island yesterday. The package comprises million committed to the State Department for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) in 2010 and the Obama administration's request for US$79 million in the 2011 financial year. Clinton also announced the administration's commitment to provide US$162 million for Caribbean HIV/AIDS programmes and US$8 million to fund regional climate change and energy projects. Clinton made the disclosures during a Press conference at Hilton Barbados after a meeting with Caribbean foreign affairs ministers, including some prime ministers and deputy prime ministers. Clinton, on the last leg of a tour that has taken in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, declared that after what some people saw as a period of the United States distancing itself from the Caribbean: "We are back - we are back 100 per cent." She reported "extraordinary progress" in the talks with Caribbean leaders that ranged from illegal drugs, the situation in earthquake-devastated Haiti, climate change and US-Caribbean trade to energy security and the impact of the global economic and financial crisis. But she admitted that both sides "have a lot of work to do", given the region's many challenges. Speaking about the CBSI, Clinton said, "We're working to curtail the flow of guns and illicit funds to the region and to reduce demands for drugs." She reported that the thorny issue of the US government deporting criminals to the Caribbean had now become part of the CBSI process and both sides were having a close look at it. Barbados and other Caribbean governments have repeatedly complained about the trend of the United States deporting criminals who were born in the Caribbean, but left the region at a tender age and have few or no relatives in the regional countries. Clinton also touched on another controversial issue - new Arizona legislation aimed at combating illegal immigration. Obama has criticised the laws and Clinton told reporters in Barbados yesterday that the administration was committed to "comprehensive immigration reform". (TY)

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